Purpose: To assess the amount of contamination remaining on used healing abutments after autoclaving and to compare the effectiveness of two additional decontamination methods.
Materials and methods: After autoclaving, a total of 120 used healing abutments were divided equally into three groups: used healing abutments after autoclaving only (group 1); used healing abutments after autoclaving and air-flow polishing (Master Piezon, EMS) using erythritol powder (AIR-FLOW PLUS, EMS) (group 2); and used healing abutments after autoclaving and sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl; 25 g/L) treatment (group 3). Residual contaminants were stained using Phloxine B (400 g/mL), and healing abutments were photographed using a light microscope with digital capture system (Nikon SMZ800). The proportion of stained (ie, contaminated) areas on each healing abutment was then measured using imaging software (ImageJ). The healing abutments were also examined using scanning electron microscopy (SEM).
Results: Mean proportion of surface area affected by residual contaminants on the body, top (screwdriver-engaging), and bottom (implant-abutment interface) surfaces for group 1 was 38.2% ± 28.34%, 30.0% ± 19.55%, and 18.7% ± 17.87%, respectively; group 2 showed 3.5% ± 4.90%, 5.3% ± 3.74%, and 5.4% ± 8.49%, respectively; and group 3 showed 0.3% ± 0.16%, 1.9% ± 2.14%, and 0.7% ± 1.02%, respectively. Autoclaving alone was insufficient for successful decontamination, while additional decontamination procedures significantly reduced remaining contaminants. NaOCl was significantly more effective than air polishing. SEM analysis showed no detectable differences in the surface appearance of titanium healing abutments.
Conclusion: The results show that decontamination of used healing abutments is achievable, thus strengthening the feasibility of reusing healing abutments.